This post is excerpted from our latest eBook, The Top 5 Asset Protection and Loss Prevention Problems Faced by Supermarkets During the Holiday Season.
The holiday season brings more sales for grocers and supermarkets, but also brings a dramatic increase in property crimes and theft including shoplifting. Larger U.S. cities have reported a shocking 45 percent increase in these crimes during the holidays.
U.S. retailers lose billions of dollars in stolen goods every year, and most of those losses occur during the holidays. Simply put, more customers means more theft. But two factors exacerbate this problem during the holiday season in particular: distraction and desperation.
The fast pace of the holiday season provides more opportunities for shoplifters to steal products and go unnoticed by distracted staff members. Underprepared and understaffed stores may not have the resources to monitor their products as closely as they can during other times of the year.
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those struggling financially, prompting some to resort to stealing when they otherwise wouldn’t. Combined with distracted staff, this can become a major problem.
There are ways you can combat the rise of theft during the holiday season without putting an extra burden on your already busy staff. Read on to learn about solutions you can implement in time for this season’s rush.
Know which items are stolen the most.
Preventing theft under the added stresses of the holiday season may require you to prioritize your loss prevention measures to the areas or products stolen most frequently.
Generally speaking, higher priced items are the largest targets for theft. For grocers, meat and seafood typically tops the list. However, it’s well worth it to invest the effort in uncovering which particular products are leaving your store without being paid for most often. With these insights in hand, you can adjust surveillance, reposition displays, or take other actions to prevent opportunities for shoplifting based on high-target items.
Tighten up cash controls.
Good cash control is essential to reducing the reward for opportunistic criminals to commit “snatch and grab” register theft. Don’t keep more cash in your registers than you need to. Put a process in place to call for continuous cash pickups by your loss prevention team or place excess funds in a drop safe.
Train your employees on the indicators of genuine U.S. currency to prevent the use of counterfeit money. Here are three easy low or no-cost steps you can take to quickly help your employees detect counterfeit money:
- Download the Department of Treasury’s Multi-note booklet. This guide breaks down the process of detecting counterfeit money by memorizing the security features on the $5, $10, $20 and new $100 dollar bill. This is a great resource to distribute to staff or run through during a training session. Access and download the booklet here.
- Run through exercises with staff. Have your front-end employees view each of the denominations and identify at least three security features on each bill.
- Hit home the idea that counterfeit detection boils down to paying close attention. Proper cash handling is the first step in detecting counterfeit money. Reinforcing even simple tasks like facing bills and organizing bills by denomination can train employees to be more attentive when handling money.
Increase floor presence.
Putting more staff on the floor is an obvious theft deterrent, but the idea of “presence” goes beyond this. Simply greeting each customer at the door and offering to help during their visit sends a powerful signal to shoppers that their activities are being monitored.
In-store theft is very often a crime of opportunity so any degree of vigilance on the staff’s part can make that opportunity seem far less appealing to would-be shoplifters.
Strengthen your CCTV or other video surveillance technology.
The lead-up to the holiday season is a great time to make improvements to your video surveillance systems in preparation for the influx of shoppers. And while installing more cameras is another obvious point, stores with older CCTV systems should consider moving to a more powerful and versatile networked video tool.
Traditional CCTV has serious drawbacks and limitations compared to modern networked video. Typically, these systems can only transmit signals to one particular set of monitors through wired connections. Networked video systems (commonly referred to as internet protocol, or IP cameras) on the other hand, capture and distribute images over a wireless internet network, making video streams accessible from multiple devices.
Using a private store network, video streams can be accessed in real-time by select personnel on computers, tablets, and smartphones no matter where they are in the store. Video footage can be stored either on remote servers or in the cloud for easy reference when needed.
In addition to greater accessibility, modern networked surveillance systems can integrate into other loss prevention systems, such as point-of-service (POS) platforms to immediately flag and investigate discrepancies––a huge real-time loss prevention ability during the busy holiday season.
Check out the tools below for examples of advanced modern surveillance systems:
OpenEye is a fully-integrated loss prevention platform that combines high-performance IP cameras with recording hardware and management software that can be customized to fit the needs of each store. Those with access to the system can view video feeds from a central control center or from a mobile app. Video surveillance can be integrated with POS systems for more powerful loss prevention capabilities.
Arcdyn offers a huge selection of cameras designed for all kinds of coverage needs along with monitoring software and storage hardware. The company has developed a step-by-step process for each industry they serve. For retailers and grocers, this begins by setting priority areas of coverage, selecting the types of cameras best suited for those areas, and then setting up a cost effective, reliable recording system.